8 Keys to Building A Genuine Powerhouse Network

Ameeting-in-your-handuthentic leadership is built on the relationships we develop over time.  Some people make the mistake of assuming professional relationships take care of themselves. This isn’t so; you must take conscious steps to nurture the relationship. People do business with people they know, like and trust. It’s not just what you know but who you know. Your professional network can open doors for you and you can do the same for others. It’s a two way street. You learn from each other and help each other. Cultivating these relationships is critically important to your career.

Here are some effective power base-building strategies to employ:

1. Understand and Support the Needs & Goals of Others

Be a connector and build a bridge. We build a bridge when we genuinely care about the other person’s success, concerns and goals. See the other person’s potential, talents, and strengths. Actively listen to others and understand their needs and goals. Listen with curiosity to get to know them better. Ask open ended questions.  Ask the simple question, “How can I help you?” Then write it down and act on it. Think Long term! Like all relationships, professional relationships take time and need nurtured. Building strong professional relationships are based on trust, respect, transparency, optimism, generosity, understanding, and mutual support.

2. Understand Your Needs

Stay tuned in to what is expected of you at work and develop professional and interpersonal relationships that can help you accomplish your goals. Build teams that compensate for the areas you may be weak in and acknowledge this special role to the employee who fills it. Focusing on your team’s strengths allows everyone to prove their talents and makes for more satisfied employees, profitable organizations, and adds to your level of influence.

3. Know Your Value

Know your talents and strengths. Let others know what your are working on. Stay visible so you get noticed (see my blog on getting noticed here). Also know your weaknesses.  Although you most likely know what these are, it’s sometimes difficult to admit them (to ourselves or someone else) in a world where weakness is preyed or frowned upon. However, the best favor you can do for yourself is to correctly identify these traits. Knowing who you are allows you to strengthen your talents, work around your weaknesses and expand capabilities. Seek feedback from bosses, colleagues and assessments.

4. Identify Your Core Network

This group of formal and informal advisors is called many different things—board of directors, circle of influence, a network. Sponsors are a must to advance your career.( see my blog on sponsors here) Your core network are the people who can help you get things done and get you to where you want to go—and you in turn offer the same help to them. They have different strengths and talents and serve different purposes. You help and support each other to live a more integrated and inspired life in business, community and society. It is critically important for women to support women too!

Think of your network as a wheel with spokes and you are the center hub. The people who comprise the spokes in the wheel are your collaborative partners who bring wisdom, guidance and support to your efforts. This can include colleagues, strategic alliances, coaches, mentors, sponsors, or people you don’t even know yet, but have identified as someone you want to meet.

5. Write a Strategic Network Plan

Identify the top 20 people you want to have stronger relationships with and 10 people who you don’t know, but would like to meet. Have a process and simple worksheet in place to make the relationships in your network stronger. Like any other plan, you have to work it, execute it, follow up and update your plan. Keep your contacts and business cards in order. Identify time each week in your calendar for networking, for example, Fridays 10-11 a.m. During that time, make phone calls and/or send emails with value information to those in your network. Follow up with  people who promised to do something for you ; do what you promised to do for others; and don’t be shy about asking for what you need- advice, introductions, or support on a project.

6. Identify Those Who Don’t Support You

This isn’t pleasant to think about, but you do not want to be naïve. Be aware of who these people are. Antagonists feel threatened by your position. Occasionally, you can work effectively with them, but overall, the relationship is not strong. Nemeses go out of their way to speak poorly of you and your work and do not trust or respect you.

7. Keep Your Finger on the Pulse

To know the most active people in your communities, join key professional associations, charities, and social media groups, committees at work and in your community. You can meet amazingly talented people who can expand your worldview and share different perspectives and opportunities.

8. Freely Share Information

Embracing the open flow of information and knowledge exponentially increases opportunities and connections. Always be ready to hook up contacts if someone in your network can fill a need of someone you know and vice versa. Promote your colleagues accomplishments and work.

Written by Teresa Shaffer

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